How to buy an acoustic. What guitar is right for you?
This thread is all about answering questions for new guitar buyers. Feel free to contribute whatever you like. :cheers:
Alright reader... You want to buy new guitar and you came to this thread looking for answers. Hopefully you'll find the right ones. I'm going to digress from standard literary practice and start with the moral of the story. Here it is. Get ready for it...
Only YOU know what guitar is perfect for you.
Take that in for a moment.
You're probably thinking, "Screw you TS, you're just being lazy and don't want to help me out." First off, no, and second of all, the above statement is the only absolutely-100%-non-debatable bit of advice there is with relation to buying acoustics. It sucks, but that's how it works.
We're all strangers. I've never met you, nor have I heard all of your favorite tunes, listened to you play, or understood fully where your playing skills are at. There is no person on this site who is gifted enough to make the magic suggestion that will lead you to the perfect instrument every time; maybe their perfect instrument, but not yours. Sure, we can speculate - we might even direct you to something really awesome, but without making the final choice based on your personal preference, you're setting yourself up for disaster.
But I feel like I'm chastising now and I'm not old enough to do that yet. Here is how you should pick out your acoustic guitar.
Hints About the Process:
For first time buyers:
Know some basic stuff about a guitar. This stuff should include the names of parts, body-styles, the difference between steel and nylon strings, and so on. You can find lovely pictures (and lots of other useful information) HERE, in the "Basic Answers" thread. Take 15 minutes, read a little, and you'll feel a lot less silly when the salesperson asks you if you want a bone nut or not.
Set a reasonable price range. If you're new to the instrument, you'll be blown away by how much money they can cost. If you only have $50 to spend, do chores, get a job, save your lunch money, or (my personal favorite) explain to your parents how an acoustic guitar would be a great way to nurture your artistic side. If that all fails, just wait. You don't lose points by not buying a guitar right now. My general rule is that at the absolute bare minimum (meaning no pickups, gig bags, or other junk they throw in) an acceptable guitar will cost about $130. Anything cheaper will be a kids toy, and we're not kids. We play big boy guitars.
And, based on your price range, have some brands or models in mind BEFORE you walk into the store. Later in this thread there are nice summaries of some popular brands and what they have to offer, followed by specific model suggestions if you're still stuck. Yamaha and Seagull are well known for their beginner guitars, and I personally have a fondness for the Jasmine line by Takamine.
Don't get trapped by good looks. If you're buying a low-end instrument, those limited dollars should be going to getting the best sound you can get, not the best inlays you can get. The more basic the better. That pretty colored wood you're so fond of most likely isn't actual wood, and the sound will probably suffer. I'm looking at you, Ibanez. Beauty is always a secondary consideration.
Ask questions! Store clerks, especially in local music stores, love to help out beginners. No one expects you to be good, and they certainly won't embarrass you if you aren't. Ask them to demonstrate instruments for you, give you a 5 minute crash course, or whatever you need to get a good bearing on a range of instruments.
Don't be afraid to wait or say no. I've never found the right guitar on the first trip to a music store, and yet every time I go, there is some schmuck trying to convince me that I have. Don't give in if you aren't comfortable. I've gotten in the habit of asking the salesperson to give me a few minutes on my own to really explore the guitar. If they're pushy, condescending, or just rude, take your business elsewhere.
For repeat time buyers and primarily electric players:
For God's sake, don't let your GAS (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome) get the best of you. It's so easy to end up with something crappy if you rush into it. Chances are you have a bit more money in your pocket now, know your way around the fretboard, and have a good idea of what you like or don't like. Use it to your advantage! You know you're going to stick with it, so why not take a few weeks (or months) and scout out something you really like? There is no rush.
Make sure you know that "what you want" is really what you want. Just because you like the low action from your Les Paul doesn't mean you should limit your acoustic search to ultra-low, slim bodied acoustic-electrics. Branch out a bit. If you play a dreadnought now, why not look at a smaller-bodied instrument?
As an extension of that don't be too damn picky. Even if you absolutely must have a piezo-equipped J-45, with a small Venetian cutaway, block fret markers, and an etching of two Basset Hounds on the headstock, don't completely ignore all the other guitars in the store. Having preferences is great, but too many of them will spoil the search. Be as open-minded as you can possibly be.
For electric players in particular, don't stick with only the brands you're familiar with A good chunk of the people here can't stand Fender, Ibanez, and (as much as I hate put them in the same company) Gibson acoustics, so be aware that their sound might not be right for you. Good electric guitar builders are not always good acoustic guitar builders.
And for everybody:
Play the guitar before you buy it. Unless you have absolutely no way to access potential new-guitar candidates, you have to hand-test. No way around it. There are just too many factors that can change from guitar to guitar (yes, even if it is the same model) to make a fully-informed decision based on what you read online. Even the comments you read on this forum must be taken only as suggestions. Just because my Sigma DR-28H kicks ass doesn't mean the one you ordered off ebay will, no matter how hard I try to persuade you.
So with these general comments, you should be able to make your own decision on what guitar you should get. I was tempted to add the entire list of possible specifics to look for from this link (about halfway down), but frankly, none of those matter if you just like to play the instrument. Understanding laminate vs. solid wood, scalloped braces vs. standard, or a bone saddle vs. plastic is great and all, but should be completely secondary to the general sound and feel of the instrument. If it feels right and sounds like a million bucks to you, that's all you really need to go by.
If you still don't know which guitars you might be into, that's cool. Shown below are very general explanations of the characteristics of a few popular brands so you can tell yourself. They are organized alphabetically.
Acoustic Brand Descriptions:
Alvarez through Epiphone
Brand Name: Alvarez
Company Overview: Alvarez is one of the more popular acoustic companies for general enthousiasts. They offer models over a wide price range to suit most types of playing styles. I've never talked to an unhappy Alvarez player.
Common Features: Most of their guitars are made from real wood. They over a broad range of options on most of their models, so the features are varied.
General Pros: They're always well put together.
General Cons: I've played a few that weren't particularly inspiring. Not bad, but just OK. I've never noticed anything particularly bad about the brand.
Other Info: They also offer a top-end line known as Yairi. They are seriously nice instruments.
Brand Name: Blueridge (Thanks to patticake!)
the blueridge section is at
Company Overview: Blueridge Guitars is owned by Saga Music, a company that owns a number of instrument companies. Blueridge Guitars are mostly Martin-style, although they do make some other styles, as well. Their guitars are made in China, but that doesn't mean they're cheap or low quality. In fact, they're generally very good quality for what they cost, making them one of the better values from their lowest to highest models. Most of their guitars feature vintage and pre-war styles.
Common Features: All Blueridge guitars have solid tops, and most have solid backs and sides. They also feature gloss finishes, x-bracing, very good quality sound, and very good value, as well as 14:1 nickel-plated butterbean tuners.
General Pros: Blueridge guitars offer very good bang for the buck and good sound, which is full with a the right amount of bass, probably from their x-bracing. They tend to be well-built with an attractive gloss finish.
General Cons: Some Blueridge guitars have a very bling-y headstock that non-bluegrass players may not appreciate, not many stores carry Blueridge as commonly as the bigger brands, so it may not be easy to try them in person.
Other Info: For those looking for the Martin sound who can't afford it, Blueridge offers a similar sound for less money. Blueridge parlor guitars are among the best sounding I've played, and also lower in price than most I'd consider competition. They offer Adirondack on all levels of guitars including their laminate models, so if you're looking for an Adi top at a reasonable price, Blueridge is definitely one to check out.
Brand Name: Breedlove
Website: Breedlove Guitar Co.
Company Overview: Breedlove is based in Oregon and has taken a role as one of the world's premier manufacturers of really sexy guitars. They produce mandolins, ukuleles, and basses, and also put together some outrageous(ly good looking) custom instruments. Browse through their catalog and you'll find instruments ranging from achingly traditional to wildly original.
Common Features: Most of their guitars come with really nice built-in electronics. Pretty woods, nice inlays, and sweet-shaped bridges are prevalent, for the most part.
General Pros: Breedlove is a bit of an anomaly in that, unlike cheaper brands who try to fake fancy and fancy brands who try fake cheap, its guitars ranging from $600 to $1200 are really freaking good. They're a hit with the avid player who doesn't feel the need (or want) to plunk down 30 Benjamins for a Martin or Gibson. Breedloves have a unique voice.
General Cons: Some of their guitars have super pointy bodies and weird cut-aways. Yech... The styling one some models can also be too over-the-top for some.
Other Info: They have a custom shop that turns 40-year-old men into 14-year-old girls. Check it out sometime when you're bored.
Brand Name: Epiphone
Website: Epiphone Acoustics
Company Overview: It's no secret that Epiphone is Gibson's less-expensive brand, but that's OK. Really, it is. They're made in various countries around the world from middle-shelf materials and carry a pretty ugly stigma wherever they go. It's unfair to call Epiphone guitars knock-offs or junk, because no one really claims that they're trying to meet the mile-high standards of their big-money cousins. It's just a different brand to fit a different market. They do a pretty fine job at it too.
Common Features: The entire line is relatively low cost. Most are made from solidly-constructed laminates to mimic the look of the stars of the actual Gibson line-up.
General Pros: Most Epiphone acoustics perform admirably as general use guitars. They're well-constructed and can be tested out at just about any store that carries instruments. The layman won't realize you aren't playing a real J-45 from the 50's because they hit the classic look pretty damn well.
General Cons: You probably won't find a "diamond-in-the-rough" when you pick up and Epiphone acoustic. They're astoundingly consistent, as guitars go. If they have a fault it's that they seem bland. Not great, not terrible, but somewhere in the middle.
Other Info: I've never come across one that had any major issues out of the factory, which is pretty rare. They just do the job.
Fender through Ibanez...
Brand Name: Fender
Fender's Acoustic Website
Company Overview: Fender suffers from a bit of the "Ibanez-syndrome" in that a good chunk of their buyers are brand-loyal electric players who assume that building great electrics means building great acoustics. I give them a bit more credit than Ibanez though, because this affliction isn't really of their own doing. It just kind of happened. This forum has its opinions, but for the most part, these transition buyers are a bit misguided. That said, like Epiphone, Fender's acoustic guitars are fully-functional, and have provided thousands of players with a well-built, affordable means of playing.
General Pros: They're usually in the cheaper-ish range, as guitars go. Fenders often have cool black finishes and even come with pretty good electronics in some models. They have a great range of styles for all players.
General Cons: Fender is all about laminate woods. That doesn't make them bad, per say, but it's tough to explain to a buyer why $800 can't get them a set of back and sides made from a real tree.
Other Info: Opinions aside, you have to admit that the Stratacoustic is a pretty clever marketing idea. They're amusing as hell to play.
Brand Name: Gibson
Company Overview: Many people forget that Gibson was originally an acoustic instrument manufacturer. Their prominence began in the early 20th century, beginning with arch-top instruments like the F-5 mandolin and L-5 guitar. Gradually, the company grew to become the massive guitar-building corporation that it is today. They have many "flagship" acoustics; the J-45, the J-200, the J-160E, and the "Hummingbird" are just a few. Originally, the guitars were constructed in Kalamazoo Michigan, but their current production is a global affair.
Common Features: "Slope shoulder" and "jumbo" bodies are synonymous with Gibson. Generally their guitars are very bassy, with relatively fat necks and "big" sound.
General Pros: Gibson is the most famous U.S. guitar builder (overall), so you'll be able to impress your friends with one, if you're so inclined. The sound is really deep and powerful. They're also built extremely well, unlike an unfortunately large percentage of their current electric guitar lineup.
General Cons: There are very few. Some people hate the bassy sound. The big necks might not suit your style of play. Many people hold grudges against Gibson's acoustics solely because of the declining quality of their electrics.
Other Info: John Lennon, James Taylor, and Elvis Costello are some of the more famous users of Gibson acoustics. Also, old Gibsons don't carry nearly the price tag of a similarly aged Martin, making all but the very tip-top vintage models accessible to us mortals. A quick ebay search has found a 1967 J-45 for $4500 and a 1940 L-00 for under $2500!!
Brand Name: Godin (Thanks to obeythepenguin!)
Company Overview: Godin is the parent company of Seagull (see below). The main Godin brand is mostly electric guitars, but also produces a few acoustic instruments.
Common Features: All Godin's instruments are hand-crafted in Canada. The 5th Avenue archtops share the same 24.84" short scale with their Seagull acoustics, and are made from a similar three-layer wild cherry laminate. Godin also has the so-called "A series," which are chambered solidbody electric instruments with an acoustic-like sound.
General Pros: The 5th Avenue is a quite popular and affordable entry-level archtop. It's voiced a bit differently than many traditional archtops, with a bit more bass like on a dreadnought flattop.
General Cons: Godin's main brand is less established in the acoustic world. Apart from the 5th Avenue, all their acoustic instruments are sold under the sub-brands listed below.
Other Info: Godin owns the Seagull, Norman, Art & Luthierie, Simon & Patrick, and La Patrie acoustic brands, and is the North American distributor for SR Acoustic amps.
Brand Name: Guild
Company Overview: Guild is perennially the world's most underrated guitar manufacturer and hell if I can figure out why. They're really good! The company was founded in the '50s and has always made mid to high end electrics and acoustics. As brand-followers go, Guild has accumulated some of the most fearsomely loyal, and from all different genres too. They make them in CT now, which is a beautiful thing. Maybe they can convince Ovation to move out, or something. :haha:
Common Features: Guild likes to make their guitars "jazzy," for lack of a better word. They have all of the traditional body-shapes and make them from incredibly nice materials.
General Pros: They make the best 12-string guitars in the world. It's not even disputable. Though the company has been around for more than half a century, it's still relatively small, which gives the instruments a uniqueness factor.
General Cons: They don't make any cheapo models for the shallow-pocketed. The broadness of the model selection isn't anything to write home about either.
Other Info: Fun fact: If you've ever read the Pulitzer Prize-winning book "American Pastoral," you've seen reference to the Neumann Leathers company in Hoboken, NJ. Guild rented the upstairs of that leather factory in the '50s and '60s.
Brand Name: Ibanez
Company Overview: If you've read anything in this forum, you'll know that most members aren't very fond of Ibanez's acoustic line. I'll play the unbiased middleman for now and try to explain what's up.
You might be inclined to ask, "why do so many people hate Ibanez so much?" To be short and sweet - their marketing is seriously misguiding. The whole deal behind their campaign is, "let's make a really colorful guitar, say it's made from 'sunken Balinese teak, free-dived from the depths of the Mara River,' and then charge $350 for it." The average young buyer doesn't know any better and forks over a few hundo for what he thinks is the deal of a lifetime. It seems a bit tasteless.
But Ibanez isn't all bad. Like most mass-producers, they're consistently built, and really have no more issues than other guitars in the same price range. The hate is more just about their approach to the whole deal. The instruments work just fine.
Oh yeah, and they were founded in the '50s, are based in Japan, etc...
Common Features: Colorful wood schemes, all sorts of unique decorations, laminated materials, and so on.
General Pros: They're really pretty. If you need a green flamed-koa-looking guitar, than look no further. Most I've tried have played nicely for the price. Most are physically durable too.
General Cons: Dodgy marketing, occasionally lackluster sound, and atrocious color schemes (from a purist's point of view, that is).
Other Info: I have an Ibanez "Daytripper" and it's the only travel guitar I've ever seen that was actually useful.
Larrivee through Seagull...
Brand Name: Larrivee Guitars (Thanks to patticake!)
Company Overview: Larrivee Guitars is a Canadian company started by Jean Larrivee and still owned by himself and his family. Unlike a lot of guitar companies, Larrivee guitars are actually made at Larrivee's own plants, and Jean and his family actually still work on the guitars, like the sunburst finishes, himself. He owns a sawmill and not only does that supply a lot of the wood for his own guitars, but his company actually sells wood to other guitar companies. In 2001 Larrivee Guitars also opened a California plant. Larrivee might almost be considered the fourth guitar company of the "big 3" as they are well thought of, high quality, and known and appreciated by a lot of experienced guitar players.
Common Features: Good finshes, well-made (joints are tight, no glue spills, good finishes). While each Larrivee line has its own sound and features, every Larrivee I've played has a good sound that focuses more on the mid and high side with a balanced amount of bass but not as much bass as you'd find in some brands. Larrivee doesn't make any laminate models, but they do make some guitars at a street price well below $2000.
General Pros: Very good build quality, dovetail necks and X bracing used in every guitar they make, well finished and polished, made in Canada, reasonably priced, good variety of styles, woods and lines.
General Cons: I've heard of a couple of the early 2000 Larrivee parlors developing a crack, but otherwise I've never heard complaints about them.
Other Info: Larrivees are not sold by most big box companies, but they can be seen in Sam Ash stores. Every guitar they make uses the same manufacturing methods that other brands use on their top-of-the-line guitars.
Brand Name: C.F. Martin & Co. (Thanks to Captivate!)
Company Overview: C.F. Martin & Co. almost needs no introduction. Established in 1833, the Martin family is still running the family business. Martin has been around as one of the leading manufacturers of acoustic guitars for over 175 years. In fact, the “Dreadnought” shape of guitar, which is the most common shape of acoustic guitar in the world, has been copied by nearly every other manufacturer in the industry. The first Dreadnoughts labeled under the Martin name were created in 1931 and the D-28 was introduced in 1934. Today, Martin is churning out a wide variety of guitars in terms of price and quality, but their D-28 model guitars still remain as the measuring stick by which all guitars are created.
Common Features: Martin is generally known for being a mid to higher-end manufacturer, although they have a wide variety of offerings from low end guitars (around $300ish) all the way past $100,000USD. Their most popular models such as the D-18, D-28, D-35, HD-28, and HD-35 will all set you back at least $2000USD or so. In general, the necks of Martin guitars will have a V shape. This is a very traditional kind of shape that Martin has adopted and held throughout the years. As well, Martin is famous for using a bracing technique called “Scalloping.” This is a technique in which you shave off parts of the bracing in an arched pattern in order to create a freer vibrating guitar top, which in turn creates a more sensitive tonal and touch response when the guitar is played.
General Pros: It’s a Martin! If you own a Martin, you own a piece of rich acoustic guitar history and prestige. This is of course assuming you get one of the flagship models (D-18, D-28, etc.) and not the cheap ones. The Martin Dreadnought shape is renowned for its wide, smooth bass response – especially on the scalloped bracing guitars – and also for its versatility through different styles and genres of music.
General Cons: While the flagship models and cheaper solid wood models such as the 1, 15, and 16 series are all considered to be quite well built, the cheaper X series models leave much to be desired. Martin’s trademark High Pressure Laminate (HPL for short) is used on all their X series guitars. HPL is essentially just heavily compressed wood fibers in a resin base (like a fine plywood, sort of). It goes in the oven as a grey goop and comes out as a hard grey sheet of fake wood. Many will argue that the sound of HPL is above average for a laminate. In general, this may be quite true, but other manufacturers such as Seagull are creating laminates which are superior in durability, affordability, and arguably sound as well.
Other Info: Being one of the world’s leading acoustic guitar manufacturers, Martin has created a huge array of signature artist guitars. Artists that you may listen to, such as Johnny Cash, Jimmy Buffet, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Peter Frampton, Andy Griffith, Dave Matthews, John Mayer, Willie Nelson, Elvis Presley, Sugar Ray, Paul Simon, and Nancy Williams, each have their very own custom model production guitars, if not a few! Martin also invented the X-bracing system which has been used by nearly all acoustic manufacturers to date.
Brand Name: Ovation
Company Overview: Ovation was founded by Charlie Kaman, an aeronautical engineer. In the late 1960's, he and a team of engineers (as well as woodworking hobbyists) took on the challenge of redesigning and revolutionizing the acoustic guitar. Their solution was to use a round back, constructed from a polymer-based composite. Though round backs had been common on all sorts of acoustic instruments for hundreds of years, this was the first time they had been applied to flat-top acoustic guitars (and made from plastic). Progressives rejoiced and purists cringed. Though their improvements to guitar sound are hotly debated to this day, Ovation has always taken a very open-minded approach to how an acoustic guitar should function, which is admirable. Most of their current production comes from their Connecticut factory.
Common Features: Round backs constructed from "Lyrachord," a lightweight composite, thin necks with extremely low action, non-standard sound hole placements, piezo-electric pickups, and a unique rounded headstock are all very common.
General Pros: Low action is a huge plus for many former electric players. The pickup hardware is often top-notch. Some like the ultra-bright unplugged tone.
General Cons: The round back is a pain for many players while sitting down. Unplugged, they often lack volume and are swayed dramatically to a very bright, almost "tinny" sound. Many players can't stand this.
Other Info: Ovation was also a pioneer for the under-saddle piezo pickup strip, which is used by most manufacturers today for its simplicity, reliability, and unobtrusiveness. Also, they happen to be, simultaneously, one of the most hated and revered major guitar brands.
Brand Name: Seagull (Thanks to obeythepenguin!)
Company Overview: Seagull is an acoustic brand owned by Godin. All their instruments are hand-crafted in La Patrie, Canada. They are known for producing inexpensive, high-quality, solid-top guitars geared towards entry-level players and "working musicians" alike.
Common Features: All Seagull guitars have solid tops. Most of them have a three-layer laminate back and sides, but some higher-end models are all solid. Seagulls use a short (24.84") scale, and often have quite wide necks (1.8" vs. the usual 1.68" or so). The most visually distinctive feature is the tapered headstock, which is designed to provide straight string pull and thus better tuning stability.
General Pros: Seagulls are quite inexpensive, but sound and play like much more pricey instruments. They're solidly built, and come quite well set up from the factory. All their guitars are handmade, and they use only eco-friendly local grown and/or pre-fallen wood. Seagull have a wide range of models with different shapes, sizes, and finishes, from dreadnoughts to the Coastline Grand, a unique 14-fret parlor guitar.
General Cons: A lot of people dislike the look of the tapered headstock, even though it's designed for pure practical value. Some of their higher-end guitars sound a bit dull compared to others in the same price range. The wider neck on most Seagulls can take some getting used to, especially if you have small hands.
Other Info: Godin makes several other acoustic brands, including Norman, Art and Luthierie, Simon and Patrick, and La Patrie classicals. Most of them are quite similar to the Seagulls, but with different woods and finishes, and without the tapered headstock. Notable Seagull players include James Blunt, who plays a custom Artist series 12-string, and fingerstyle virtuoso Peppino D'Agostino, who has his own signature model.
Tacoma through Yamaha
Brand Name: Tacoma
Company Overview: Tacoma is a bit of an odd company. Up until a few years ago, they produced a broad range of incredibly fine guitars for every style. Shortly after their acquisition by Fender, the operation was all but stopped, save for two or three of the less interesting models. There are "plans" for a revival at some point, but no one knows when for sure. When they were in operation, all of their guitars were built by craftsmen, but remarkably, were quite affordable. They offered everything from travel guitars to baritones to acoustic basses. Each instrument was produced in Tacoma Washington.
Common Features: They use no laminates of any type (edit: But their Olympia offshoot brand does use some laminated backs and sides). Nearly all the wood for tops and sides is harvested locally. Beyond that, they supply too varied a range to generalize.
General Pros: They're real wood and they're well put together. Their more standard body shapes are absolutely unreal.
General Cons: The company has ceased operation, and even before they were incredibly difficult to get a hold of to try out. Beyond that, some of the more "creative" models are either loved or hated.
Other Info: I have one of these (the EK36-C). The top wood was from a 2000 year old cedar that fell into a swamp 600 years ago. That means my guitar top had been growing for 600 years when Jesus was born. :haha:
Brand Name: Taylor (Thanks to patticake!)
Company Overview: Taylor Guitars is located in El Cajon, California, near San Diego. The company was founded in the 1974 by Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug, who both run the company today, 35 years after they started. Bob Taylor and his guitars stand out because of their use of technologies like using CNC (computer numerically controlled) design and machines, and their bolt on necks. CNC machining makes the guitars very consistent, and is one of the things that stands out about Taylor guitars. Taylor focuses on acoustic and acoustic electric guitars, but they do make some electrics. Their guitars have an excellent reputation for quality, and the company is known for good customer service.
Common Features: Taylor makes a wide variety of guitars, but they are known for their bright sparkling highs, overall consistency,
General Pros: Good finishes, good build quality, smooth frets, each line sounds good in its class, good hardware, good to great sound depending on woods/line. Taylor offers a lot of all-solid interesting woods like koa, bubinga and Australian blackwood. Taylor Guitars is a "prestige" brand for those who care about that.
General Cons: Taylor's bright highs aren't for everyone. Some consider the brand too pricey. Their electronics, the "Taylor Expression System," don't include a tuner or controls on the guitar - a plus for some but a minus for those who want to control their sound from the guitars.
Other Info: Taylor does not offer an entry level guitar. Taylor Guitars is now doing repair and maintenance for other brands of guitars. They do custom guitars at a price lower than some hand builders, and offer factory tours, and also offer a quarterly online magazine, Wood and Steel, with articles about everything Taylor from new guitars to artists to guitar playing hints.
Brand Name: Yamaha
Company Overview: Yamaha is a gigantic company. Wikipedia tells me that they have more than $4.5 billion in revenue overall. Fortunately, they figured out how to produce some pretty great and really cheap guitars with those billions. They're undoubtedly one of the most popular brands for new guitar players, and deservedly so. Their instruments are rock solid.
Common Features: Their relatively modest line has a nice enough range to suit most tastes. The inexpensiveness is the biggest feature.
General Pros: Practically free, they work like a charm, and they're accessible to anyone in the world. It doesn't get much better than that.
General Cons: They can be lackluster, but when you payed less than $200, who cares? Also, the "Silent Series" is the dumbest thing ever.
Other Info: Jorge Lorenzo rides for the Fiat-Yamaha team in Moto GP. He's my favorite. He also does shit like this.
...you bet your sack he landed it. Read on!
In the next few posts, you'll find a selection of instruments sorted (relatively) by price. Keep in mind that local stores will be more expensive than chain superstores and online dealers. Also, remember that these are only suggestions (fairly random ones, at that). Make sure that you try them out before you start spending.
Specific Models by Price Range: *Please note, this will be continuously added to over time.
Guitars Under $350: (Thanks to fsb_ben and jimtaka for arranging these!)
- Alvarez RD210 Regent ($249.99 - $269.99 @ musiciansfriend.com) -
+Solid Sitka Spruce Top
+Mahogany Back and Sides
+Rosewood Fretboard and Bridge
Alvarez RD210 @ MusiciansFriend.com
- Epiphone Dove ($299.99 at musiciansfriend.com) -
+Solid Spruce Top
+Maple Back and Sides
+Rosewood Fretboard and Bridge
Epiphone Dove @ MusiciansFriend.com
- Seagull S6 Entourage ($299.99 @ musiciansfriend.com) -
+Solid Spruce Top
+Wild Cherry Back and Sides
+Rosewood Fretboard and Bridge
+Rustic Burst Finish
- Takamine G340SC ($299.99 @ Musiciansfriend.com) -
+Solid Spruce Top
+Mahogany Back and Sides
+Rosewood Fretboard and Bridge
+Dreadnought Body with Cutaway
Takamine G340SC @ MusiciansFriend.com
- Washburn D10s ($299.99 natural color @ zzounds.com) -
+Solid Spruce Top
+Mahogany Back and Sides
+Rosewood Fretboard and Bridge
+Includes Hardshell Case
Washburn D10S @ MusiciansFriend.com
- Yamaha FG700s ($199.99 - $249.99 @ musiciansfriend.com) -
+ Solid Sitka spruce top
+ Nato back and sides
+ Rosewood fingerboard
+ Rosewood bridge
+ Black/white body binding
+ Tortoise pickguard
+ Diecast tuners
+ Natural finish
More suggestions for moderately priced guitars can be found HERE .
Guitars between $350 and $700:
-Seagull Coastline S6 ($439 at guitarcenter.com)
+Back: Wild Cherry laminate
+Sides: Wild Cherry laminate
+Neck: Silver Leaf Maple
+Fretboard: Rosewood, 21 frets
Seagull Coastline S6
- Blueridge BG-60 ($671.25 at musiciansfriend.com)
+ Select solid Sitka spruce top
+ Rosewood back and sides
+ Slope-shoulder style body
+ 16" lower bout
+ Slim mahogany neck
+ Dovetail neck joint at 14th fret
+ Rosewood fingerboard
+ Rosewood bridge
-Alvarez PD361 ($569.99 at musiciansfriend.com)
+Solid rosewood back and sides
+Solid cedar top
+Fingerboard Inlay: 3 Piece Alvarez 12th Fret
+Body Binding: Maple/Herringbone
+Soundhole Rosette: Abalone
-Ovation Elite 1778 TX (599.99 at guitarcenter.com)
+Body Type: Mid-Depth Bowl
+Top: AA Solid Spruce
+Bracing: Scalloped X
+Scale Length: 25-1/4"
+Fretboard: Rosewood with Black Satin
+Fret Inlay: None
+Bridge: Rosewood with Black Stain
+Pickup: Ovation OCP-1K
Ovation Elite 1778 TX
-Seagull Maritime SWS (599.99 at guitarcenter.com)
+Body Type: Solid
+Body Wood: Solid Mahogany
+Top Wood: Solid Spruce
+Scale Length: 24.84"
+Neck Joint: Integrated Set Neck
+Neck Wood: Honduran mahogany
+Fretboard: Indian Rosewood
Seagull Maritime SWS
-Epiphone Masterbuilt AJ-500RE ($700 at guitarcenter.com)
+Solid Sitka spruce top
+Solid rosewood back and sides
+eSonic2 stereo preamp with built-in tuner and NanoFlex/NanoMag pickup combination
Epiphone Masterbuilt AJ-500RE
*More to come*
Guitars between $701 and $1300:
-Breedlove Atlas D25/SR ($1000 at guitarcenter.com)
+Solid Sitka spruce top
+Solid rosewood back and laminate sides
+Depth 4-9/16" at tail block, 3-3/4" at heel
+Lower bout width 16"
+Improved Breedlove bracing with ultralight JLD bridge truss for stability and sustain
+Ivoroid bound body and neck
+Abalone rosette with purfling ring
Breedlove Atlas D25/SR
-Taylor DN3 Sapele ($1099.99 at guitarcenter.com)
+Back & Sides: Sapele
+Top: Sitka spruce
+Neck: Tropical American Mahogany
+Fretboard: Ebony with Binding
+Fretboard Inlay: Small Pearl Dots
+Headstock Overlay: Indian Rosewood
+Binding: Cream Plastic
+Nut and Saddle: Tusq
Taylor DN3 Sapele
-Takamine EG523SC12 ($749.99 at guitarcenter.com)
+Solid spruce soundboard
+Flamed maple back and sides
+Jumbo body style
+Active electronics with onboard EQ
Guitars above $1300:
-Perfection ($6,999.00 at guitarcenter.com)
+Body: Solid, Premium Grade Honduran Mahogany
+Top: Solid, hand selected Adirondack Spruce
+Neck, One-Piece Honduran Mahogany, 24.75" scale
+Fingerboard: Madagascar Rosewood, with Mother of Pearl inlays
Gibson 1942 J-45
Thread is open now. Feel free to post questions, comments, and concerns with anything relating to buying a new guitar. I'll try my best to complete the rest of the thread quickly. :cheers:
ObeyThePenguin should add something about 12-strings.
I was trying to keep everything general so it could applied to all acoustics, including 12-strings and classicals.
something for first time guitar buyers: if you can't play guitar, or don't play very well yet, have a friend or the sales rep at the store play all your potential guitars while you sit in front of it so you can actually hear each guitar you're considering buying.
for intermediate guitar buyers or those who haven't played a wide variety of guitars: before you decide on a guitar, play everything in the store/stores. especially play guitars more expensive than your price range. once you've played a large number of guitars, you'll have a much better idea of what you're looking for, even in a cheaper guitar.
Could we add a section to address online reviews?
I think some of the points made about reviews are quite valid and important to first time buyers. I know I did a lot of online research when I bought my first guitar.
No love for Dean?
Oh I dunno. Mine is quite solid and sounds very nice to my ear (which is the moral way up at the top)
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the Alvarez RD210 a laminate top, not solid?
Hmm... Alvarez's cheapest solid top seems to be these...
AD410 Artist Dreadnought - $299:
AD410 Regent Dreadnought - $250:
I've been slacking a bit on finishing this thread. I'll be adding more soon.
A sure-fire way to test a guitar's resonance is to pluck the high E string, then mute all strings except the low E. The more resonant the guitar, the louder the low E will ring. Sometimes it's hard to tell just by playing because of where your ears are positioned relative to the guitar.
So I have an Ibanez as a beginner acoustic guitar. Are u saying that brand is no good?!
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